Your Channel 4 F1 team revealed

I’m going to apologise in advance as this will be largely a data driven post with some analysis on it. As readers will have already spotted, one position on the Channel 4 team has already been taken up, with David Coulthard announced on Monday morning (11th January).

For those of you that followed the survey and my posts over the Christmas period, the survey was based upon the assumption that there will be eight roles in Channel 4’s setup. They are:

– 1 x Presenter (on-site)
– 2 x Analyst
– 1 x Lead Commentator
– 1 x Co-Commentator
– 1 x Technical Expert
– 1 x Pit Lane Reporter
– 1 x Magazine (studio)

As a pre-note, the survey brings out some interesting thoughts. Of course some aspect of it is X is more well-known therefore gets more votes. But it is not only that which interests me, but also the order lower down (this will become obvious as the piece unfolds). To address a few points before the analysis:

1. Some of the choices were “bizarre” – The choices were based upon my own predictions over the Christmas along with comments made by readers below each article. Admittedly, there were some choices readers may have not heard of, but that is to be expected. I did not want to limit the survey by only included an arbitrary number of candidates.

2. Candidates were not included – This was a conscious decision not to include people who are not realistically going to be part of Channel 4’s team. Including people such as David Croft, Martin Brundle and Will Buxton, who are understood to be tied down with other broadcasters’ did not make much sense in my opinion.

3. Descriptions should have been included – I agree on this point and perhaps something I should have done so that it was clearer for some of the obscure names what they have done in the past.

Unfortunately, the survey was subject to a case of vote stacking from multiple IP addresses, only for the Presenter questions. On Friday (8th January), the vote for Andy Jaye tripled from 2.8% to 7.7%, going from eight votes to 28 votes in the space of a few hours. A smaller scale vote stack, again involving people voting for Jaye was evident a few hours before the survey closed. So, clearly the Andy Jaye fan club is alive and kicking!

The results show the #1 choice, the rank and then the end outcome. I am planning to publish a PDF document with a more detailed breakdown in due course – these are the headline figures. I will alert you early: there are no major surprises in the results. The numbers are largely what I expected, but as always the devil is in the detail, in particular who is ahead of who further down the order.

Presenter – Jake Humphrey
Based on #1 choice = Jake Humphrey
Based on rank = Jake Humphrey
During the predictions over the Christmas period, along with your thoughts, there were twelve possible choices for who could lead Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage. However, one name that 4.5 percent of you chose for number one choice was Lee McKenzie, who I made a conscious decision not to include given that it appears she will be staying at the BBC. As it turns out, it is very clear that fans want McKenzie to remain in Formula 1 in some form (see the Pit Lane Reporter role below). In all measures, former BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey led a largely two horse race between himself and Suzi Perry. Humphrey recorded an overall percentage (combination of rank and #1 choice) of 22.8 percent, with Perry in second on 19.1 percent.

C4 F1 team - Presenter
Your Channel 4 F1 team – Presenter role. A two-way battle between Jake Humphrey and Suzi Perry that the former wins.

We’ve discussed previously whether Humphrey would recommit himself to Formula 1 on a full-time basis. His current BT Sport commitments mean that is highly unlikely, however I really do think a part time gig of some sort is plausible, and it is clear that blog readers want to see him back involved. The graph above shows the aforementioned Andy Jaye in third based on number one choice (although whether that is a real ‘third’ place is debatable).

When the rank is taken into account, Jennie Gow slots into third, with Steve Rider in fourth. Their relative positions in comparison to the trend line implies that either would be a good choice to lead Channel 4’s coverage if Humphrey or Perry could not fulfil the role going forward. In my opinion, the major surprise was Chris Evans, who fared up in ninth overall, behind the likes of Craig Doyle and Charlie Webster. Despite his obvious links, it appears readers’ are not too keen on Evans having involvement in the coverage going forward. Channel 4’s own talent Rick Edwards and Clare Balding rounded off the pecking order.

Lead Commentator – Ben Edwards
Based on #1 choice = Ben Edwards
Based on rank = Ben Edwards
There were five contenders identified for the role of lead commentator. A whopping 57.5 percent of you chose Ben Edwards as your number one choice to lead Channel 4’s commentary team. Alongside a rank of 2.03, it meant that Edwards’ percentage overall was 41.8 percent, the highest recorded across the survey. It was a comfortable victory for Edwards and is a clear mandate that readers of this blog at least want to see Edwards part of Channel 4’s commentary team.

Your Channel 4 F1 team - Lead Commentator role.
Your Channel 4 F1 team – Lead Commentator role. A clear win for Ben Edwards.

In second place was former ITV commentator and current BBC Radio 5 Live commentator James Allen, who recorded an overall percentage of 20.6 percent. Jack Nicholls, the current Formula E commentator, was close behind in third. The remaining three candidates were clustered together to round off the chart, Toby Moody leading the pack in 4th overall. Seeing Allen ahead of Nicholls in all three measures may surprise some given the major criticism of Allen whilst with ITV, however it should be remembered that Nicholls has not had much exposure yet.

I’ve spoken about the low Formula E viewing figures on this blog before, and in some way the numbers here corroborate that. If you have not heard of Nicholls before, you are unlikely to place him above someone who’s name you do recognise. However, Nicholls falls a fair bit below the trend line, showing that the readers’ that have heard of him do like the work that he has done so far.

Co-Commentator – David Coulthard
Based on #1 choice = David Coulthard
Based on rank = David Coulthard
We have had confirmation that David Coulthard will be part of the Channel 4 team. What was not specified in Channel 4’s release is whether he will be part of the commentary line-up. If he is, then based on the evidence blog readers believe is the right choice, and him and Edwards would rekindle the BBC commentary line-up from the past four seasons.  52.9 percent of you labelled Coulthard as your number one choice. In second was someone who has certainly never commentated to a British speaking audience in the UK. Enter Mark Webber.

C4 F1 team - Co-Commentator
Your Channel 4 F1 team – Co-Commentator. David Coulthard leads the way by a country mile, but Mark Webber surprises

Not only is Webber a popular choice, but he, along with Allan McNish and Anthony Davidson in third and fourth, fall far below the trend line. What that means is, although a lot of people picked Coulthard as their number one choice, the other respondents kept the other three in contention overall in the ranking part of the survey. I’m not as convinced that Webber would be a great co-commentator, but that is just my opinion. If you look back five years, who thought Coulthard would have been as good as he is in the commentary box?

Further down, Karun Chandhok and John Watson were a few readers’ number one choice, but never made enough of an impression to trouble the four candidates in front of them. Barring anyone appearing out of nowhere, the co-commentator position is a two horse race between Coulthard and Webber.

Analysts – Eddie Jordan, David Coulthard and Mark Webber
Based on #1 choice = Eddie Jordan, David Coulthard and Mark Webber
Based on rank = David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Allan McNish
This is where things not only get complicated, but they also get messy. There are broadly three main groups to focus on. The first is Eddie Jordan, on his own. As a number one choice, Jordan won with 19.4 percent of the vote, a number which is low but you should bear in mind that there were 16 candidates identified. However, his rank (which in this instance can be between one and 16) was 6.97, which placed him fifth in the ranking list. Because of the gap between him and other contenders for the number one choice, it means he is still the overall favourite with blog readers. Jordan does fall above the trend line in the graph below, which shows how audiences either love him or loathe him, depending on where you fall. Analysing the rank results, 8.1 percent of you labelled Jordan as choice number 16 in the list, the highest possible position! Ouch…

C4 F1 team - Analyst
Your Channel 4 team – Analyst. One picture tells many stories…

Despite the polarising opinions though, Jordan was top of the table with readers. David Coulthard is in second, ahead of Mark Webber and Allan McNish, who I would class as group number two. All three are familiar faces to viewers, Webber more so for driving than analysing. It should not be too much surprise to see them near the top. But then (ignoring Anthony Davidson for a second) we have three names who have not been part of the F1 broadcasting picture before from sixth to eighth: Graeme Lowdon, Martin Whitmarsh and Susie Wolff. Lowdon beat Davidson from a number one choice perspective, but understandably fell behind from a ranking point of view.

It is interesting to see the three ahead of the likes of Karun Chandhok and Rubens Barrichello, both of who have raced in Formula 1 before. Wolff divided opinion with blog readers. Like Jordan above, 10.2 percent of you rated Wolff as your least favourite in the rank, but enough of you gave Wolff high enough scores, meaning that she favoured well compared with the likes of Chandhok and Barrichello. So, if Whisper Films are looking for a new analyst, Lowdon, Whitmarsh and Wolff are the ‘go to’ people. There is one other person…

Technical Expert – Gary Anderson
Based on #1 choice = Gary Anderson
Based on rank = Ross Brawn
… and his name is Ross Brawn. The battle of who should become technical expert was a lot closer than I anticipated and leaves Whisper with some thinking to do. Firstly, 4.8 percent of you do not believe the role should exist, which is reassuringly low in the context of what I talked about in the last of my prediction posts over Christmas.

In terms of candidates, this was a two horse battle between Gary Anderson and Ross Brawn. The number one choice was split 30.2 percent to 28.0 percent in Anderson’s favour, but Brawn edged it in the rank by a margin of just 0.03! In the eyes of readers, there is very little to separate the two. You could take it as a net win for Brawn given that Anderson has had TV exposure with covering Formula 1 with the BBC and Brawn has not.

C4 F1 team - Technical Expert
Your Channel 4 F1 team – Technical Expert. A very close two horse contest.

In a very clear and respectable third place was Craig Scarborough. It is not a done deal that Channel 4 will be able to get either Anderson or Brawn on board, so Scarborough could end up in the pound seats with the team. Scarborough amassed nearly 100 votes, or 20.2 percent of the number one vote. Marc Priestley and Tom Clarkson rounded off the order, but it has to be said that neither threatened the top four positions in either the rank or the number one choice questions.

Pit Lane Reporter – Lee McKenzie
Based on #1 choice = Lee McKenzie
Based on rank = Lee McKenzie
There were ten candidates for the role of pit lane reporter. As early evidence for the presenter role suggested, there was only going to be one winner here, with Lee McKenzie leading the way comfortably. Again, Tom Clarkson and Jennie Gow are behind in second and third, the latter falling below the trend line again which shows that viewers like the work that she does.

C4 F1 team - Pit Lane Reporter
Your Channel 4 F1 team – Pit Lane Reporter. No major surprises here.

I was disappointed that no one stood out below the top three to be honest. As the graph above shows, the remaining candidates are clustered together, with Natalie Pinkham and Louise Goodman leading the way. If McKenzie is indeed not doing anything Formula 1 related going forward, then their best bet appears to either Clarkson or Gow. In conclusion, it looks like you want a combination of the following to be your Channel 4 Formula 1 team:

Presenter: Jake Humphrey / Suzi Perry
– Analyst: Eddie Jordan / David Coulthard / Mark Webber / Allan McNish
Lead Commentator: Ben Edwards
Co-Commentator: David Coulthard
Technical Expert: Gary Anderson / Ross Brawn
Pit Lane Reporter: Lee McKenzie

I will adjust this post with more information as the week goes on (and to remove any grammatical errors etc), but I wanted to get the results out there as soon as possible.

The tables with the raw data can be found here


8 thoughts on “Your Channel 4 F1 team revealed

  1. Pinkham is expecting baby number 2 as announced on Twitter last week, so would be an unlikely choice at least for the first year?

  2. Thanks hugely for running this survey. Very interesting results, largely for the status quo in many areas – so Channel Four not doing too much wrong so far as the Whisper bid seems to bring some continuity from the BBC.

    My only issue is the inconsistent way that you applied point 2. By making a judgement call not to include Crofty Brundle or Buxton as you felt they were tied in with other broadcasters it them seems very odd to include Pinkham (why would she be less tied in then the others at Sky?), Chris Evans (Famously on a golden handcuffs deal with BBC post TFI Friday, and when would he have the time even if he wasn’t) and Jake Humphrey (Who when he joined BT Sport said his deal restricted him to sports presenting for BT only, and renewed with them for four more years last June). To me this does mean some allowances have to be taken in the results.

    I hope in the full results my votes for Brundle and Kravitz in their respective areas are at least includeded. They are at least not bizarre (Not Jo Brand or Julian Clary) or dubious (like Andy Jaye)! Although if they had been included in the list and not typed entries they would have undoubtedly scored much higher, like Jake did.

  3. interesting, not the choices Id have predicted, Jake is not leaving BT, and he was so ordinary at the Beeb, surprised.
    Brundle is staying at sky. He mentioned it on sky sports news.
    By the way, what does this mean, did someone try to have more than one vote ‘Eleven people recorded one vote each’?

  4. The BBC is the only broadcaster I know who’s against sharing commentary. Channel 5’s Football League Tonight shares commentary with Sky Sports. Don’t rule out Crofty and Brundle making their way into the sound system of your TV on Channel 4 yet. Could also save them some money. Analysis is, of course, different, but I expect, Coulthard aside, some unknowns or people with no prior experience. Remember, that Coulthard announcement doesn’t specify his role.

  5. I know he’s got a BT contract and said he didn’t want to travel as often but I am certain Jake Humphrey will be involved because of Whisper being his company. I also think Sunil Patel will work behind the scenes as he did at the BBC.

    1. Sunil confirmed – “The company’s fourth co-owner and managing director Sunil Patel, who will executive produce C4’s coverage, also oversaw the BBC’s F1 output before leaving in 2010 to launch Whisper” (Source: Broadcast). Can imagine we’ll see Jake around occasionally but I very much doubt it’ll be in a formal on-screen role while his BT contract is in place.

      I’d put money on Jake presenting shared content for C4 and BT Sport when they win the rights off Sky in 2019 mind!

      Back to this year. and it’ll be interesting to see the interaction between DC and his fellow presenters as he’ll be both their co-presenter and their boss…

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